Is Storm too hard to play in a singleton format? Find out in this Commander article about Nekusar, the Mindrazer by Paul Palmer
In my past Commander articles I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how I like for my games to be fair. I’ve talked about how locking other players out from playing or taking hour long solitaire-esque turns just makes your opponents turn off and never want to play with you again.
I’ve reached a point where if I pull my [card]Daretti, Scrap Savant[/card] deck out of my bag it’s met with a series of groans.
However, sometimes you just need to let out your inner Spike. The following deck came about after reading an article by one of the StarCityGames Commander writers. In this article, the author talks about playing against a [card]Nekusar, the Mindrazer[/card] player who had the potential to kill the entire table by turn 3 or 4. After reading up on Reddit and other places on the internet, it began to dawn on me how much of a powerhouse this lower valued M15 rare really is:
This card is crazy. “So how does this deck abuse Waste Not?” I can hear you asking. Well you see, there was a card released way back in Alpha that makes this card get out of hand.
No… Not that Wheel of Fortune, this one:
[deck]Wheel of Fortune[/deck]
And here we have it. One of the finest value generating engines. Just to get an idea of how good this can be here is a little scenario.
Your hand is:
[deck]Wheel of Fortune
This hand looks alright, but you’ve hit land every turn and there are no blue players. You don’t care about cycling it for some better cards. You decide to wheel it and you get:
Tendrils of Agony
Of course this is some kind of magical fairyland draw but it’s possible, and at the end of the day the redraw isn’t what we’re looking for here. It’s what your opponents discard. Most Commander games have four people, so let’s say for simplicity’s sake they all discard one creature, one land, and and one noncreature, nonland card. For the low price of [R], you’ve just drawn ten cards, received six black mana, and have three 2/2 zombie tokens on the battlefield. That’s absolutely insane and it only gets better the more cards your opponents have in their hand.
Why play [card]Nekusar, the Mindrazer[/card]?
During the course of building this decklist, some of the other commanders were considered. [card]Nicol Bolas[/card] works well with [card]Waste Not[/card]. [card]Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge[/card] lets you play your wheels for free. Ultimately, you don’t even need to play Nekusar for this deck to win (this will be covered in the next section) but if you actually manage to resolve him without him getting countered or killed, the game becomes easy mode with the number of wheel effects in the deck.
How does the deck win?
This is where we get down to the real core of the deck. A lot of the Nekusar decks you’ll see will probably be more like a pillow-fort, with cards like [card]Howling Mine[/card] and [card]Font of Mythos[/card] letting you draw a bunch of cards and kill your opponents.
None of that nonsense here. We want to kill everyone in one turn. How do we do that? With my favourite mechanic in all of Magic: Storm. Now before you rise up in arms saying that you can’t play storm without 4-of [card]Dark Ritual[/card] or 4-of [card]Brainstorm[/card], let me just show you the one card commander does have that Legacy/Modern storm decks do not.
If you’ve ever played or watched your favourite streamer play storm in the holiday cube you’ll know that this card is completely and utterly absurd (hence the reason it is on the Legacy and Vintage Restricted lists along with cards like [card]Black Lotus[/card], [card]Ancestral Recall[/card] and the Moxes).
So how am I planning to storm out three opponents in a singleton format? It isn’t easy.
I would like to add a short preface to this little segment about storm. As some of you may or may not know there is a separate community that play a format with some considerable differences from the Commander format you probably know. This format is known as “Duel Commander“, which is two-player Commander.
I have played a little bit of this format and with a combination of price constraints, plus this deck being the coolest I could find I played a mono-black version of storm with [card]Sidisi, Undead Vizier[/card] and [card]Ad Nauseam[/card]. This was when I fell in love with the mechanic and it felt good to play something so similar to Legacy while was a student who couildn’t afford to blow over a thousand pounds on a deck (students need to eat too!). A lot of what I learnt from playing that deck will be transfering to this one.
So, back to the matter at hand: How am I going to get a high enough Storm count to kill a whole table of players in one turn? A lot of this will boil down to the artifacts in the deck, as well as [card]Yawgmoth’s Will[/card] and [card]Past in Flames[/card].
Now to the dismay of storm players out there, there is no storm spell that targets all opponents. However, as mentioned before, the most common number of players in a commander game is four, which means you only have to kill three other players. Luckily, there are three separate storm win conditions.
[deck]Tendrils of Agony
Of these, Tendrils is your main gameplan. It needs the least storm investment while also giving back the life you lose during [card]Ad Nauseam[/card] and [card]Treasonous Ogre[/card]. [card]Brain Freeze[/card] is likely your second option with [card]Grapeshot[/card] being the last since they require a significantly higher storm count to outright kill an opponent (getting to a storm count of 40 is a lot of work).
Never fear! [card]Yawgmoth’s Will[/card] is here! This card is somewhat of a cornerstone of this deck. If you don’t need to use it to recast any of your cantrips or 0-cost artifacts, you can use it to recast your win conditions, meaning you can use [card]Tendrils of Agony[/card], solving the 40 storm count issue.
Of course this wouldn’t be a Commander deck without alternate win conditions. If your storm triggers all get [card]Stifle[/card]d and Nekusar never resolves, what are you going to do? You’re going to deck yourself! With all of the wheel effects in this deck it’s not going to be hard to get an empty library. “But if I do that, I lose, right?” Wrong. [card]Laboratory Maniac[/card] is a staple in a lot of blue Commander decks simply because it’s so common to run out of cards either via decking yourself or if you are facing a [card]Phenax, God of Deception[/card] player, and this deck is no different!
Things to Look Out For
Like with any combo deck, this one has got a few pitfalls that you have to look out for. The biggest of these is definitely the aggro decks in the format. You’re using your life as a resource and cards like [card]Treasonous Ogre[/card] and [card]Ad Nauseam[/card] burn through it very quickly. This can become a problem when you’re facing down the likes of [card]Marath, Will of the Wild[/card] or the ever increasing popularity of [card]Zurgo Bellstriker[/card]. Playing [card]Ad Nauseam[/card] and then dying to [card]Ball Lightning[/card] would definitely suck.
Storm requires a lot of spells to be cast, and you know what stops that? Cards that say you can only cast one spell a turn. [card]Eidolon of Rhetoric[/card], [card]Arcane Laboratory[/card], [card]Curse of Exhaustion[/card] and even [card]Ethersworn Canonist[/card] to some degree have an impact on how this deck plays and forces you to dig for your few removal spells to deal with them.
[deck]Eidolon of Rhetoric
Curse of Exhaustion
My Nekusar Commander Deck
Here is the decklist:
[deck]Nekusar, the Mindrazer[/deck]
Magus of the Wheel
[deck]Culling the Weak
Rain of Filth
Red Elemental Blast
Wheel of Fortune
Tendrils of Agony
Past in Flames
Reforge the Soul
Talisman of Dominance
Talisman of Indulgence
Helm of Awakening
City of Brass
Improving the deck for the future
There are definitely a number of ways that this deck can be improved, from a better calculated mana base to cards like [card]Flusterstorm[/card] and [card]Force of Will[/card]. Since I’m currently a student, I can’t afford the better lands and these more expensive counterspells so I’m just going to have to test this build and see what I can do to improve it within my budget. Any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks for reading this article, and if you have any feedback leave a comment! I love reading them and I reply to every one I receive.
Thanks for reading,
[schema type=”review” url=”http://www.manaleak.com/” name=”Nekusar, the Mindrazer: Commander Isn’t Just For Casuals! – A Commander for Everyone by Paul Palmer” description=”Is Storm too hard to play in a singleton format? Find out in this Commander article about Nekusar, the Mindrazer by Paul Palmer” ]